Pruning is a chore that can be done while watering or weeding and results in healthier indeterminate tomato plants and bigger fruit—with very little effort. Plenty of people do not prune at all and still grow good tomatoes. Tomato Pruning Tools The one and only tool that you need for pruning tomatoes is a pruner (a.k.a. The plant becomes bushier and less productive. [2] You must prune your tomato plants once in a week or whenever your tomatoes are extremely vigorous.15 minutes is quite enough to spend time in your garden. Common indeterminate tomatoes include Better Boy, Cherokee Purple and San Marzano. Some gardeners prefer to prune out everything that is below the first flower cluster for strong stem growth. Lots of leaves also give pests like the tomato hornworm plenty of hiding places. Remove suckers judiciously, and your plant will form larger, fewer fruits toward the top of the plant. How To Prune Tomatoes When growing tomatoes, the ultimate goal is to help the plant yield as much ripe fruit as possible. Fewer flowers means fewer tomatoes. Suckers are the enemy! If left alone, a sucker forms a large stem that flowers and bears tomatoes. This Latin American fruit comes in thousands of varieties. One technique that actually helps improve tomato plant yield is pruning. Not all types of tomatoes need to be pruned. Pruners are easy to manoeuvre, as they are a hand-held tool and are easy to work with on the tomato plant. Tomato plants form a growing stem that pops out of the crotch where a leaf attaches to the main stem. Improving The Fruit Quality . Let's get together. Hold the part of the plant between your thumb and index finger before gently snapping the piece away. You'll get the choicest summer fruit if you follow these tips. Prune Tomato Plants Gradually Do this gradually as the plant grows through the season. Plants tolerate late blight without reducing yields. Determine which variety you're growing. Using a sharp, clean pair of pruning shears, snip these small sucker branches off. You may need to move the piece back and forth until it loosens enough to break off. The best time to prune tomato plants is in the early morning on a dry day. How to Prune Big Tomato Plants? Pruning of tomato or vegetable refers to the process of getting rid of the large, dead or even unwanted part(s) of the plants. When it comes to pruning tomato plants, it’s all about clearing space to promote better air circulation, provide more light, and keep pests and disease at bay. Browse a full list of topics found on the site, from accessories to mudrooms to wreaths. Disregarding the pruning stage will also prevent more fruit from growing. These tricks will protect young tomato plants so that an early harvest is possible. Most disease and fungus in the tomato plant comes from air borne spores passing by your plant and landing on the nice moist leaves. Don't miss your favorite shows in real time online. How to Prune Tomatoes and Disease Prevention. Leaves touching the ground can be susceptible to bacteria, fungi, and viral infections that can spread through the rest of the plant. And, Angus says, “That means pruning them.” To understand how best to prune your plant, it’s a good idea to understand these basic points about the structure of a tomato plant: Look for the tomato "suckers," which grow in the "V" space between the main stem and the branches on your tomato plant. If left unpruned, these suckers will eventually grow into full-sized branches—adding lots of foliage and, eventually, a few fruits. Most tomato pruning can be done by pinching off whatever part of the plant needs to be removed. On determinate plants, it’s also good to remove any leaves touching the ground, along with any that are yellow or sickly looking. Remove all suckers as they develop (suckers are the growths in the crotch between stem and vine), and all non-essential growth, like vines which are spilling out over the raised garden bed or becoming tangled with adjacent bushes. Some controversy exists over whether or not tomato plants should be pruned, and the reality is that if you don't, it will not cause problems. Prune away the flowers until the tomato plant is at least a foot tall, better yet 18 inches. Let all the suckers grow, and your tomato will form a large bushy plant with many small tomatoes. Remove suckers when they’re smaller than a pencil width. If your goal is to maximize the harvest, prune suckers sparingly. The primary purpose of pruning vegetables is to create a room or allow the best parts of the plant to grow well to increase or improve the fruitfulness. Remove leaves below the first cluster of tomatoes to help reduce disease on tomato plants. A tomato tree in Epcot's Land Pavilion at Walt Disney World broke records in 2016 when it produced a one-year harvest of 32,000 tomatoes. For larger shoots, the mini branch can be snapped off by placing the index finger and thumb around … If you're growing indeterminate tomatoes, which produce fruit regularly over the course of a season, pruning is essential. Learn how to prune your apple tree so you can reap a bountiful harvest. Prune the lower leaves (under the first flower cluster) from both determinate and indeterminate tomatoes. Why Are the Bottoms of My Tomatoes Rotting? As the plants continue growing (Indeterminate) you can also cut off the lower leaves sparingly up to 18 inches from the soil surface to avoid any soil-borne diseases. While you’re at it, use poles, trellises, or cages to keep the tomato vines off of the ground. Branches that are low-hanging and touching the ground should either be staked up or removed. Let all the suckers grow, and your tomato will form a large bushy plant with many small tomatoes. The first season of pruning tomato plants will feel strange because you’re cutting off a lot of the plant, but this actually helps it produce more tomatoes. How to Prune Tomatoes. On indeterminate plants, remove all leaves underneath the first fruit cluster. The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Unpruned foliage will eventually grow into new branches that will form fruit, but most experienced growers advise that tomatoes should be pruned to not only produce larger fruit earlier in the season but also to protect the plants against pest and disease problems. If you do prune tomatoes, the plant will produce fewer flowers because of fewer suckers. Tomato suckers are the small sprouts that form in the crotch where leaves connect to the stem. That way, all the leaves have ample access to sunlight. Also add a thick mulch layer beneath tomato plants to keep diseases that live in soil from splashing onto lower leaves during summer storms. In fact, a Purdue study found that there was a 25% increase in fruit size when the suckers are pruned. Learn how to prune tomato plants—and why you should do it. Indeterminate tomatoes are tall and vining, and plants need substantial stakes or tall cages. When you prune your tomatoes you will improve their form and remove any conditions or diseases that might create bacterial and fungal problems on the plant. Remove suckers when they're small by pinching them off or snipping them with pruners. Learn how and why. Tomato plants form a growing stem that pops out of the crotch where a leaf attaches to the main stem. If you do this, the plant will stop growing upward. If you’re growing indeterminate or “vining” varieties (Big Boy, Beef Master, most heirlooms), pruning your plants to remove unwanted shoots and leaves ensures that all the nutrients are going to the tomatoes. Pruning Tomato Plants. University of New Hampshire Extension. Determinate tomatoes form a bush that usually tops out between 3 and 5 feet. © 2020 Discovery or its subsidiaries and affiliates. Removing large amounts of foliage at one time can stress the plant. Of course, tomato pruning isn't a required chore, no matter which type of tomato you're growing. Don’t worry if you miss a week, because your tomato plants still produce tasty fruits if they aren’t suckered. Cutting thick suckers creates open wounds on a tomato that are easily attacked by pests and diseases. If you decide to prune, it's really a very simple process. Pruning tomato plants is an optional technique that some gardeners use to keep plants tidy, manipulate fruit size, and even speed ripening. Once the plant starts bearing fruit, you’ll want to allow all of the plants energy into ripening those tomatoes. Colleen Vanderlinden is a freelance writer and the author of Edible Gardening for the Midwest. This helps to slow disease outbreaks on plants. garden clippers). As well as that, their size matches exactly the tomato branches, as they don't cut anything bigger than 1 inch. Tomatoes are not one of those plants that require pruning or deadheading in order to thrive, but shrewd pruning can improve the quality of the fruit you harvest.. How to prune a tomato plant Pruning a tomato plant is often easy to do without even tools to aid. Many gardeners don’t prune determinate tomatoes (above), especially in regions with short growing seasons. Start by removing the first few branches early on. Get video instructions about kitchens, bathrooms, remodeling, flooring, painting and more. Pruning and staking go hand in hand. Removing Bottom Branches And Foliage Here are two tried and true ways. All rights reserved. 1  If left unpruned, these suckers will eventually grow into full-sized branches—adding lots of foliage and, eventually, a few fruits. Prune to keep the plant at a manageable size. Most tomato pruning involves removing suckers — the shoots that form in the axils where side branches meet the stem. The main reason to prune tomato plants is that it helps your plant direct its energy toward producing fruit rather than producing more foliage. Decide what to grow based on your needs and your garden space. If you catch them when they’re small enough, you can easily pinch them with your fingers. Tomato pruning objectives: Prune to create one to four strong stems. When you first start pruning tomatoes, keep three rules in mind: first, never, ever prune above the top blossoms. The need to prune tomato plants depends on the type of tomato plant it is. Get the most out of your plant with these two simple maintenance practices. To prune, you simply remove these suckers. We love to DIY. If left alone, a sucker forms a large stem that flowers and bears tomatoes. Fantastico is a grape tomato that’s determinate, growing to form a tidy bush. Doc shows you how to prune your tomatoes to help prevent against diseases. These are the plants that keep forming fruit until the very last frost. Suckers under two inches long can simply be pinched off with your fingers, but with larger suckers, use a pair of clean pruners, disinfecting them as you move from plant to plant to protect against spreading diseases. If you miss one and it has grown thicker than a pencil, leave it alone. For the little shoots, pinching off the sucker is enough to do the job. Determinate Versus Indeterminate Tomatoes, 3 Tomato Plant Problems and How to Prevent Them, Identifying and Controlling Early Blight on Tomato Plants. Introducing "One Thing": A New Video Series. Warnings. Why should you consider pruning tomatoes? All of the leaves will not receive the needed sunlight and the plants will run a high risk of disease. Determinate tomatoes need no pruning other than removing all suckers below the first flower cluster, because pruning won’t affect their fruit size or plant vigor. Prune tomatoes once a week routinely and twice a week during heavy growing seasons. How to prune tomato suckers. How to Prune Tomatoes If you decide to prune, it's really a very simple process. 2. How to Prune Tomatoes at Planting: Start by removing any lower leaves before planting so that you can bury the plant deep into the soil. Pruning tomato plants can improve your crops, and even extend the harvest season. Because determinate plants develop all of their fruit at one time, pruning may cause you to sacrifice tomatoes for no reason. Pruning your tomato plants will reduce the number of stems and leaves on the plant. If you prune your plants and prize tomatoes appear, but the plants are not staked, your plants won't be able to hold the weight and will fall to the ground. These parts include the branch, the bud, roots, and even the stems. Suckers are new sprouts that spring forth from the crotch of existing branches. Indeterminate varieties grow like vines, and they must be trained upright on poles and pruned in order to grow correctly. Next, prune out suckers when they’re small. This info is on the plant tag or seed packet. When To Prune Tomatoes? This will allow for the wounds from the pruning to heal cleanly and will reduce the chances of the plant being infected by disease. You love to DIY. This will also result in a tomato plant that quickly outgrows its space in the garden. If you are growing determinate tomatoes, you don't want to prune. On the other hand, if your plant produces fewer tomatoes, the fruit may grow larger. Remove the leaves if they touch the ground. Five simple reasons: To get the most out of your pruning, you have to know what kind of tomato you’re growing: indeterminate or determinate. When a tomato plant is nicely pruned and staked well, its leaf tips are open to the sun and are able to conduct photosynthesis without excess stress. That little shoot is known as a sucker (above). These tomato tips from our readers combine folk wisdom with science and a little luck. There are various ways to prune suckers. Try them and see if they boost your harvest. This helps keep the commonly huge vines in control, and it encourages the plant to produce several large tomatoes instead of lots of foliage and many smaller tomatoes. Look for the tomato "suckers," which grow in the "V" space between the main stem and the branches on your tomato plant. If the leaves are covered, they won’t get any sunlight and will struggle to survive. As the plant continues to grow and fill out, you can continue to prune up to get to the full height of open space. Indeterminate tomato plants, on the other hand, just keep growing and growing and produce fruit until the first frost. Common determinate tomatoes include Rutgers, Celebrity and Bush Early Girl. Pruning up the bottom of plants allows for better air circulation, and better plant health. Gardeners love to swap tips for growing tomatoes, and each one promises bigger and more tomatoes per plant. Read our, The Difference Between Vining and Bush Tomatoes. How To Prune Tomatoes. This will prevent fungal diseases and improve the overall quality of the fruit. If you do any pruning at all above the first flower cluster on determinate tomatoes, you’ll only be throwing away potential fruit. It really is that simple. The extra leaves reduce air flow through the plant, which can lead to disease outbreaks. Plants tend to ripen their fruit all at once, which makes them a great choice for canning or making salsa or sauce. Who can resist picking a vine-ripened ‘mater that’s sweet, juicy and warm from the sun? On indeterminate plants, remove all suckers that form between ground level and the second flower cluster. That little shoot is known as a sucker (above). Having too many flowering leave and off-shooting suckers will decrease production and slow down the plants ability to full ripen existing fruit. Before you make any cuts, figure out whether you're growing an indeterminate or determinate variety of tomato plant. Follow these tips for growing tomatoes in your summer vegetable garden. Whenever possible, remove the suckers when they are small. Monitor plants weekly until you get all the suckers. Tidy Rose tomato is a beefsteak type, which produces large ‘maters perfect for slicing onto sandwiches. If there are any flowers on the plant, remove them. Over-pruning may lead to sun scald. Learn tips for creating your most beautiful (and bountiful) garden ever. 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